Welcome to NLMS Music Summer School at Downe House

It is with great regret that we have to announce that the 2020 Summer School has been cancelled. Understandably, Downe House School has decided that it cannot open during the Summer period, given the level of uncertainty over current and future guidance for schools, large gatherings, and social distancing more generally. Everyone who has applied for the 2020 Summer School has already been informed.

We do, however, have lots to look forward to. The bursar at Downe House was very warm when talking of his anticipated plans for NLMS in 2021. It is true to say that NLMS course members and tutors were very happy with their experience at the school; the school staff members were fulsome in their praise for NLMS course members and tutors.

The committee’s initial approach is where possible to capitalise on the 2020 arrangements such that the 2021 Summer School will be broadly similar to what we had planned for August 2020. We will post information here on the actual date planned for the 2021 Summer School when we have firm plans.

We will update the details on this site to reflect the 2021 plans as they become clear.

A music summer school for adult amateur players and singers, with two orchestras, choir, string group, brass ensemble and – new for 2020 – percussion courses

Video © Rhodri Spearing

NLMS has been running summer schools for over thirty years.  The 2019 Summer School was a huge success, with excellent attendance at a superb new venue, and great music-making by all the ensembles and friendly support from our amazing team of tutors. We believe that our summer school is the premium offering in the market!

Of the 80% of people who responded to our feedback survey in 2019

  • 100% would recommend the summer school;
  • 97% plan to come again in 2020; and
  • 95% say the course is good or excellent value for money

The 2020 summer school will take place from Saturday 1 to 8 August, at Downe House School in Cold Ash, near Newbury in Berkshire.

Main house block

Downe House is a girls’ boarding school and an ideal venue for our music summer school.  Music accommodation is plentiful, the residential accommodation comprises single and double rooms all with wash basins, catering is very high quality and the buildings are accessible and close together, with parking nearby.  Situated only a few miles from the M4 and A34, and from Newbury station, the school has excellent transport links. Extensive and beautiful grounds as well as a swimming pool complement the facilities available to course members.  And of course we will be setting up our usual bar!  Overall, Downe House is a wonderful venue for enjoying friendship in music.

Steve Bingham conducts the Sinfonietta

NLMS offers a challenging and enjoyable week of music making in a very friendly atmosphere.  Two orchestras, a choir, a brass ensemble and a string group provide a wide variety of courses to suit all abilities and interests.  New in 2020 is a percussion group.

A feature of NLMS Music Summer School is the very high ratio of tutors to participants, with a professional tutor for each instrument and each voice.  Each course enjoys wide-ranging and exciting repertoire.

A wide range of optional sessions is open to all, complementing the main courses.  In 2019 these included baroque strings, woodwind ensemble, open strings and an open choir session and we anticipate a similar set of offerings for 2020. 

Concerts take place on many of the evenings, given both by participants and professionals.


We aim to provide enjoyment through music-making and, while we achieve high standards of performance, this is never at the expense of friendliness and good humour. I hope to see you at Downe House in August 2020 and, whether you are a regular attender or a new member, you can be assured of a warm welcome.

Steve Bingham
NLMS Music Summer School Director


See what makes NLMS Music Summer Schools so highly regarded by participants…

“A high spot of our year. Many thanks for providing such a super musical experience.”

“This week was close to being perfect for me.”

“Not only musically helpful but friendly. I look forward to next year.”

“A wonderful week of hard, fulfilling study and practice.” 

“A very good social opportunity to meet and make new friends.”

“The venue, organisation, facilities and camaraderie have been 1st rate.”

“I had such a good time. Music-making is so exciting!”

“This course kept me smiling for weeks.”


>> Explore Downe House

Explore the courses available, including details of repertoire…

>> Symphony Orchestra

>> Sinfonietta

>> Choir

>> Brass Ensemble

>> Percussion Group

>> String Group


Whether you are one of our many frequent returners, or thinking about coming for the first time, at NLMS Music Summer School you will enjoy a wealth of music making activities, professional tuition in an encouraging and supportive atmosphere, with excellent food, convivial social activities, beautiful surroundings and lots more besides. We’re looking forward to receiving your application!

>> Apply Now!